Advent Resources for Families

Advent Resources for FamiliesIf you know me, then you know Advent is one of my favorite times of year and I will talk your ear off about how great Advent is.

I feel deeply that advent calls to the heart of a sojourner. The longing, the hopeful expectation, the crossroads of already, but not yet. It’s a mournful, yet still hopeful cry that says, Come, Lord Jesus, come!

The desire for all to be made whole, for Christ to come again and call his people home. Advent is for the wait. The reminder that as we come to celebrate Christ’s first advent, his birth as a baby, we are to look forward to his future promises in his second advent. We live in this tension of promises received, but still lacking our complete glorification.

We sing,

Come, thou long expected Jesus,

Born to set They people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.

It’s a beautiful season.

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Resources

Advent has definitely seen a resurgence in some Protestant denominations, but mostly in the evangelical camp. I’m glad our subculture is beginning to remember liturgy and traditions can be helpful means of remembering and teaching Christ in the life of the Church. I’ve found CRI Voice to be a good introduction to the season of Advent.

I wanted to share a few Advent resources and traditions we’ve done throughout the years, as well as a few new things I’ve found.

The Jesus Storybook Bible & the Jesse Tree

When my children were young, I tried reading through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotional and hung the printable ornaments. The length of those devotions were a bit long for the little ones, but the ornaments were a favorite and became known as “hanging promises.”  We eventually started reading related portions of The Jesus Storybook Bible.

Many families have found this works well for them and you can find a variety of Advent reading plans to go along with The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more ideas here.

Advent Wreath & Candles

Our advent wreath is one of my favorite parts of the season. It’s a beautiful reminder of how Jesus is the light of the world and in light the darkness scatters. We get to see that beautiful truth as we light a new candle each week. At the beginning of Advent, it’s dark and we can hardly see the little faces peering around the table, but by Christmas Day the light is bright enough to shine throughout the room.

It’s a simple and beautiful way to show our children how Jesus makes the darkness flee and how darkness can be a representation of sin and in Jesus’s redemption that darkness flees.

The circle wreath reminds us God is eternal and is mercy and love is unending. The four candles on the wreath stand for the four hundred years between the prophets and the coming of Christ. They also symbolize the hope, love, joy, and peace Jesus brings (as well as many other things). Three of the candles are purple, symbolizing royalty, and one pink (usually used for the third week). The white center candle, called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Day in celebration of Jesus entering the world and being the Light of the World.

There’s plenty of options when it comes to Advent wreaths. I bought a frame from Hobby Lobby, stuck it on a plain wreath, and added a few sparkles here and there.

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Music

In some traditions, people withhold from playing Christmas carols, hymns, and songs until Christmas Day, which is the first day of Christmas and continues until Epiphany. The idea is to keep in the remembrance and mood, so to speak, of the Advent season, the already, but not yet, waiting to sing the more celebratory songs once Christmas arrives.

In our house we play both, but I do tend to lean more toward Advent songs in the first few weeks. Here’s a list of Advent songs.

I’m a big fan of Spotify, so of course I have our own Advent playlist on there. My goal is to find the perfect version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, so right now there’s about 20 different versions. I might be exaggerated a little. You’ll also notice a lot of Andrew Peterson on my Advent playlist. These songs aren’t particularly made for Advent, but definitely have echoes of the season (I love me some AP music).

Advent Resources for FamiliesHere’s a few of my favorite Advent and Christmas albums:

Most of these are on Spotify and Amazon Prime, but a few are on one or the other and Behold the Lamb is on neither. But it’s good enough, you’ll want to buy it anyway. ;)

Traveler's Journey: Advent Letters for Young SojournersTraveler’s Letters

This is one of my children’s favorite things. One year we received a package on our doorstep from someone named Traveler. Inside the package were Advent candles, a few letters (and more came later), and a book, Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress for children.

Traveler's Journey: Advent Letters for Young SojournersIt’s been such a treasure and wonder for our family to dig into the Advent season as a sojourner and for our little ones to begin to understand this life of faith is a journey and to long for Jesus’ kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven as we wait for Christ to come again.Advent Resources for Families

You can find all the letters ordered and compiled, along with a few of our favorite hymns and poems below.

Traveler’s Journey: Advent Letters for Young Sojourners

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Books

There are so many Advent devotionals and readings out there I’m sure to leave out a few good ones. This is a list of Advent books that either I’ve used or have heard great things about from friends.

If this is your first time observing Advent or you’re looking to try something new, I hope you find something that works for you. But even more I hope you know the love of Christ and are encouraged to pursue him in the longing and waiting of Advent.

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Traveling from Risk to Grief to Bitter to Good

***FYI: I wrote this 6-8 years ago, it’s a reflection of my first miscarriage in 2007 and the months that followed. It’s unedited in places, a bit raw and TMI, but real nonetheless.***

A Risky Business

We weren’t planning on getting pregnant. At least not yet.

I realized I hadn’t been feeling well and it wasn’t going away. Then the wheels in my head began turning and something clicked, “Maybe I’m pregnant.” Joe wanted to wait to take a test and I was ready to go buy one that second. We waited a few more days until my birthday to take the test. I was so anxious and excited that I woke up at 4:45am and took the test. Waited those agonizingly few minutes…

There were two lines. One not as dark as the other, but there just the same. We were pregnant! Of course, like any good wife I woke up my husband to tell him. He wasn’t so excited…at least not at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Since the result was a faint positive I made an appointment to take another test at the hospital. I took the second pregnancy test the next day. A few days later the results came back with another faint positive. That night we told our family.

A few days later my doctor ordered a blood test. My hCG’s weren’t increasing normally. So I took one and then a few days later another and then another. My hCG’s were only going up a 100 or so a day, when they’re supposed to double each day. Looking back now, that should have been a sign for concern. But I wasn’t. I was on cloud 9 and my mom had had low hCG’s with her pregnancies we all were fine. All in all, I took six pregnancies tests and all came back positive. I wasn’t worried.

…………………………………………………………………….

We were so excited to start our little family. And then it happened. My mom had been in town for a business trip and was getting ready to leave. Joe and I took a walk before work together. And I started spotting. It wasn’t much. It seemed a normal amount from what I had heard and read, so we preceded with our day as normal.

I got to work, started to settle in, and headed to the bathroom before my students showed up. The spotting wasn’t so little anymore and I knew something was wrong. I was bleeding. I was beginning to lose my baby. I called my mom. She was just getting ready to board the plane. She asked if I wanted her to stay and I said yes. She was on her way back to our apartment. I called Joe and told him to come home.

I cried, pulled myself together a bit, and headed to the office. I got to my boss’s office and told her what was happening. We cried together, she prayed for me, and I stayed in her office until there was a break in the flow of kids arriving and then drove home to meet my mom and Joe. It was a whirlwind.

We all got there within a few minutes of each other. I called my OB and told him what was happening. He said he was sorry and that it sounded like I was having a miscarriage. The only thing he offered me was if the pain was too much I could go to the ER and they’d give me something to help pass the baby. He scheduled an ultrasound for Monday.

I knew I wouldn’t go to the ER. I was going to hold onto every chance that this baby would survive.

So we sat, prayed, ate, and watched Pride & Prejudice–I remember this, because I started with one version and my mom and Joe wanted to switch to a newer version.

By the next day I was feeling more hopeful. My pain was less and I knew God wasn’t going to take my baby. I prayed more that weekend than I have in my entire life. I sang songs. I read Scripture. I had so much faith that our baby was still alive or even if it wasn’t God had the power to revive it.

Saturday we went to lunch with a few friends, because staying at home the only thing to focus on was what was happening to my body. We went to Soup Plantation. We were having fun. Then I had to go to the bathroom.

I sat down and went to the bathroom. Then I sneezed and felt something drop. I looked and there it was…a red mass. So I did what any mother would do, I wrapped it up, put it in my purse, and went back to the table. The look on my face must have spoke volumes, because both Joe and my  mom said, “Is it time to go?”

Everything was a blur after that. I still prayed, I still hoped, I still thought everything was going to be okay. Deep down I knew it wasn’t.

On Monday, we went in for the ultrasound. Joe held my hand as we watched the screen.Nothing. So the doctor did an internal ultrasound. Nothing.

I could feel myself zip up any emotion that might have tried to squeeze out.

He said something about being sorry and these things happen.

My uterus was still enlarged. What I passed was the placenta. Our baby had stopped growing.

No tears. I was fine. It just happens.

I walked out of the examination room fine. No tears. I meet my mom in the waiting room and said something. Shrugged my shoulders and walked toward the elevator.

I was fine. It happens. No tears.

Grieving

September 17, 2007. That was the day we officially knew we had lost our baby. Life continued and I went back to work, but things weren’t the same.

People offered their condolences.

“I’m so sorry.”

“These things happen.”

“I’ve been there too.”

“I guess it just wasn’t God’s timing.”

It was hard to hear, but even harder to respond. I didn’t really know what to say. When we shared our loss with the youth kids we worked with a church there were a few who didn’t understand. One boy had never heard of a miscarriage and asked me if I was joking. Another of our students has some mental disabilities and for weeks would follow me around and ask me what happened to the baby. Finally, Joe had to firmly tell him to stop talking to me about the baby and told him it had died. For weeks after, he would just stare at me like I was the Black Death. He couldn’t comprehend how something could be growing inside of me and then stop. Never could I.

Work was hard, because I was a preschool teacher. I saw children as young as 2 1/2 to 6 years every day for 6 to 9 hours a day. Thankfully, I had not told them I was pregnant. Explaining a miscarriage to middle schoolers was hard, but to preschoolers there would have been an endless barrage of questions.

The next day at work, during our staff devotional one of the teachers read Lamentations 3:21-26 and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s a passage I would revisit numerous times in the coming months (and years).

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, ”Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.

Later that day I was talking to Joe on my lunch break. He began reading something to me that made me cry. It was the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism:

What is your only comfort in life and death?

That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things work together for  my salvation.

Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

A week later one of my students crawled in my lap and asked if I had a baby in my belly. It took everything in me not to cry. I knew it was God’s way of telling me it’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to be vulnerable. That night I journaled,

Lord, I don’t know what to think…I don’t even know what to say. I’m avoiding it, I know. I guess I’m ignoring what happened and am just shutting myself up from it–emotions and all things pertaining to it. I’m untouchable. At least that’s how I feel like I’m acting and responding to it and people and life…just that it doesn’t bother me. Which obviously isn’t true, but I don’t know how else to do it.

I just put on a pretty face and act like all is well and I’m doing just fine and God is good. The last part is true that I know…but I’m not sure how to appropriate that truth.

It’s true. I knew God was (and is) good in losing our baby. I believed that he would work all things together for my good. I would sing a chorus to one of the Bible songs we sang with the children. I would sing it out loud. I would sing it under my breath. I would sing it in my head.

God is good, all the time

He put His song of love in this heart of mine

God is good, He’s so good, all the time

But I didn’t yet know how to live that truth…How to make it go from knowledge I repeated to myself over and over and over to something I believed with my whole being?

How is this best for me? How is this God’s grace? I don’t understand how this works for my good and completion in Christ Jesus. I know it does. I could answer the question if someone asked…God knows what’s best for me and Joe and little Addison.

I love God and I know He loves me and He only gives the best for His children which is comforting, but how is this best?

I don’t mean it in a ‘angry-justify-yourself’ way, but a I want to know…I want to understand. I want to see how God is working this together for my good, for His purposes. I want to see His plan and appreciate it.

I also wanted to see how it ended. Where was God going with this? I knew he didn’t have (and likely wasn’t going to) show me the end result–the healing. But I thought if He did then the right now would be easier to handle.

That night I began processing my grief in its earliest form.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

What do I hope for? Am I sure of it?

What do I not see? Am I certain of it?

I don’t know what to think really. But this is what I do know:

  • That God is not doing this because He does not love me, but because He does love me. (Even if I don’t understand that…)
  • God is doing this so that I become more like Jesus. (Even though this is a mystery to me.)

Bitterness to Healing

As the weeks passed, I began to process what had happened little by little. But life had changed.

We tried to carry on with life as usual. Work, church, youth group, prayer teams, care group. But things slowly started to fall apart. I went to work and did my job, but with little enthusiasm. We slowly dropped events on our calendar. It was painful to see kids. It was painful to see parents leave their children for hours at a time when I had just lost mine and all I wanted was a child.

I’d come home and instead of living life, I’d watch TV and eat. Joe and I watched an hour or two of TV a week before the miscarriage. Afterward, we’d eat dinner in front of the TV and spend at least 3 hours there. It was a coping mechanism. I didn’t have to think about real life in front of the TV. I didn’t have to deal with my emotions. I just had to figure out what the missing letters were on Wheel of Fortune. In the next few months I’d gain at least 10lbs (how little that seems now!).

In the month after our miscarriage, I had been hiding something from Joe. I thought I was still pregnant. An outsider might recognize this as the denial stage in grieving, but I had convinced myself I was still pregnant…that the doctor didn’t know what he was talking about. It was all a big mistake.

When I shared with Joe that I still had all the symptoms of pregnancy–tired, nauseous, hungry, weight gain–he gently told me these were also signs of depression. I started to cry. It was time to ask for help.

It felt like everything was falling down around me. I was exhausted from acting like everything was fine. I was discontent, unhappy, and indifferent to life.

One of the reasons I struggled with asking for help (other than I’m a stubborn, proud sinner) was few people even asked how I was doing in regard to the miscarriage. So few that one hand had too many fingers to count them. Other than Joe, the only people who ever said anything were my mom, my boss, and a single friend. I felt lonely.

I felt like no one really considered my baby real and a loss. To me it was huge, but the lack of voice in my family and friends said the opposite. It got back to me that an older family member was told we weren’t ever really pregnant, because that would be easier for them than the truth. I struggled with thinking that maybe others didn’t really consider our miscarriage a loss because it was so early (9 weeks) or there wasn’t a physical baby to hold or there was no proof other than my own word. I felt alone in carrying the burden of our miscarriage. I felt that Joe and I had to be the ones to make Addison’s existence real.

It was then that I was surrounded by a group of amazing and dearly loved women in prayer. My heart was not only encouraged, but I didn’t have to carry the burden of grieving alone. These women were willing to journey with me.

Things weren’t fixed after this. My struggles were revealed. God’s goodness was reinforced. I had women who were regularly and purposefully asking me how I was doing. But life still happened. In late October we were evacuated due to fires. That same day I shared publicly the question that was burning within me: Am I a Mother? and my fears for Mother’s Day. Even though it was months away our baby would have been a few weeks old and we’d already talked about how wonderful it would be to be able to take part in the baby dedications on that day. Then in November/December we went to Ethiopia for a mission trip, where God continued to engrave on my heart His goodness.

One thing I’ve neglected to share up to this point is the condition of  my heart. Yes, I was hiding. I was pretending everything was okay. I was depressed, but I was also bitter.

I didn’t know how to respond and bitterness is what came out.

Bitterness unchecked is suffocating.

It consumed my life. Maybe that’s why I had to repeat to myself that God is good all the time. I struggled with understanding His goodness and living in my bitterness.

I didn’t enjoy being around children anymore. It was only a reminder of what I lost. Baby showers were a painful experience. All the oohing and aahing as I’d sit quietly by myself fixing the food trying to hid my own tears. There were two baby showers within weeks of our miscarriage that I attended.

And then…there were all the happy pregnant women. It seemed so unfair that women who weren’t even trying to have babies or “shouldn’t” were pregnant. I was unhappy and I didn’t want others to be happy either. In some way, I felt if they were happy and had what I wanted then I could never have it too. Then there were the awkward baby conversations where I use to be included and after the miscarriage ignored.

Every day was a struggle. Every day was a battle to breath. I hated life. I hated that I lost my baby. I didn’t understand God’s purposes. I knew He was good, but still my heart screamed in agony of losing the life I never got to hold. I wanted to yell at every mother that complained about her child. I wanted to tell them to enjoy the sleepless nights, because at least that means they have a breathing, living child! I wanted people to feel my pain.

One day at church a family friend grabbed my arm as we were passing in the hall. She is a woman who has never been able to have children even though she desperately wanted them. As she took my arm and looked me in the eye she said, “I just got to the point where I wanted to be happy. I was tired of being bitter. I just wanted to be able to go to a baby shower and bless someone else.”

As simple as her statement was it rocked my world. It didn’t make everything all better, but it was the light I needed to see. I was tired of being bitter. I wanted to be happy. I didn’t want people to feel how I was feeling, because I was miserable. I wanted joy.

It was then that I purposed to repent and let go of my bitterness. It was doing nothing for me, but wrecking havoc on my life. The journey wasn’t easy, but repentance never is. The pain of losing Addison still remained, but changed. Instead of being an all-consuming, searing pain it began to morph into a holy pain. A sadness that also saw God’s goodness. His mercy. His renewal. His covenant.

Because of this I was forced to trust in God more than I had before.

Because of this I learned to say, even through tears, “You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say blessed be Your name.”

Because of this I know and have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Because of this my heart cries,

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

He is my all in all. He is my only thing. He is my life and my death. He is I AM. He knows my pain. He is not helpless, but gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

He sees me and holds me in the palm of His hand and there I find my comfort, my rest, and my peace as I gaze into the goodness of the Lord.

 

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The Daily Work of Hope

I lose my hope perspective ten times a day, at least. I get weighed down by the crumbs of life…those bread crumbs that stick to your feet when you’re just trying to cook and the smear of peanut butter as you brush against a wall. The things that seem no matter how you wipe them just keep coming back. There’s always more work, something else required of me, some way I can see I’m failing, and that suffocating frustration of when my life feels too boring, too much, too menial and I begin daydreaming of the things that will take these feelings away.

A trip to the craft store, diving into a book or binge watching a show, a few hours alone at my favorite coffee shop, getting out alone for a walk, taking in the breeze and beauty without having to make sure everyone is safe and accounted for. Those things are good and can be helpful tools in realigning myself to the truth, but if I keep looking to those things as the fix, my conventional savior, I’ll always be disappointed and left dry.

Those things can give me space to refuel, to pause and reflect, but in those longing daydream moments they don’t really do me any good. They increase my despair or loneliness, bitterness or jealousy not because they are bad in and of themselves, but because in my heart I’m saying, “If only I could do or have xyz, then I’d be alright/happy/could do this life.”

But the truth is those things will continue to fail me if I’m looking to them for satisfaction of my soul. 

My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

And so, I must do the hard work of turning from myself and turning to Christ, the source of ultimate joy and satisfaction. It’s not easy. Jesus isn’t a quick fix to a perfect life or a continual intravenous drip of happy. But looking to Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith, I can boldly say, “I can’t, but You can.”


I can’t do this day. I can’t take one more question, one more failure, one more thing to stress over.

I can consider him who endured and know in Christ’s power I can endure. And this faintheartedness, this despair to give into sin and apathy—the vanity of life, I can look to Christ and see how he endured for the sake of joy and I too can endure.

To consider Him—not myself, not others, not my circumstances, but Jesus…to do the daily work of living, enjoy life, and not grow weary in doing good in fulfilling the role he’s placed me in. To remember the joy set before me in the new Jerusalem, to turn my eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful face, to know this weight of glory.

It sounds so basic. Turn from looking inward and look to Jesus. Basic but essential. Even if I have to do it hundreds of times a day.

And I will.

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It’s all meaningless, so why try?

Yesterday, I was complaining to my husband how the most exciting part of my day was wearing real pants and going to Victoria’s six month appointment. Oh, and making homemade iced coffee.

I was disappointed because I had to cancel an exciting outing to the post office to buy stamps, because Tori wasn’t having it after her shots. Meaning buying stamps would have to be pushed to another day, pushing back the project I needed the stamps for another day with another errand with kids who were cooperative today, but may not be tomorrow. Yay. #momlife

We speak mostly in gifs while Joe is at work and after going back and forth for awhile, he sent me this one:

via GIPHY

Always opening the door, always a door to be opened. I replied, “That’s pretty much #momlife.” And Joe responded with, “maybe mom’s need to read more Ecclesiastes.”

“All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:8-9

So I sat down and read the whole book of Ecclesiastes. At first glance, it all seems to say, “It’s all meaningless, all of life is utterly vain and then you die. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, wise or foolish, lazy or diligent in your work, in the end you’re going to die and you won’t be here to see the fruit or effect of your life’s work.”

Sounds uplifting, doesn’t it? An anthem for the long days that seem to suck the life out of you.

Enjoy your life, because in the words of the great Johnny Cash, “sooner or later God’s gonna cut you down.”

But with a closer look—a gospel look—the Preacher ends with “the end of the matter; all has been heard” (Ecc. 12:13a). We know how this life ends. This earth is passing away and we are but a mist, a vapor, like the dust to which we’ll return.

But for a believer, death is not the end but the beginning of a great new adventure,

“The death of the righteous, that is, of every believing and repentant sinner, is a most excellent blessing of God.” 

William Perkins

What about today? I’m not dying. (Lord, willing.) Amid lukewarm coffee, sleep deprivation, uncertainty, monotony, chores, and a life that feels like you’re just opening a door to find one more closed, what do these ecclesiastical lamentations mean?

“Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13b

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40

Yes, life feels futile. Yes, life is repetitive. Yes, the daily details are quite often boring. All our accomplishments will soon fade, our castles in the sand will wash away. Any hope we have in our work or riches or position will not sustain us.

But put your hope in the Lord “where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20).

Fear God. Serve Him. Love others.

Life is full of hard, boring, dull, tiresome days. We wipe tables, wash dishes, attend one more pointless meeting, start another load of laundry, call another client, hold babies who won’t sleep, and reheat that cold cup of coffee for a third time.

Life is full of beautiful, surprising, joyous days. Saturday morning family cuddles, surprise visits from friends, a finished cup of coffee, the beauty of community, foggy sunrises, peonies in full bloom,

In all the days—the mundane, heartbreaking, and glorious—fear God, love him, and love others. This life will soon pass by, but if the Lord is our God, even the days we want to throw up our hands and shout, “Meaningless! It’s all meaningless!” even those days are an opportunity to love God and love others.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last,

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,

If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.

- C.T. Studd,

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Advent’s Longing Cry

SONY DSCAt the heart of sojourning is this,

Will we live for the promise even if we can’t see it?

The sojourner says, “Yes.”

Amidst the unknown and chaos, the sojourner travels on, practicing faithful endurance with each dusty step. There is a promise, but we can’t see it. Not until heaven rains down Glory and Jesus comes to call us home. But even in this, even in the spectacular unknown, in the walking on water, like the sustaining air we breathe but cannot see, we trust the Holy Invisible, for it is–He is–the only one who settles our rattled souls and stills the storm of our heart. In Him we move and live and have our being.

We who have been overwhelmed with the grief and joy of Calvary, we stand secure in the empty tomb. Our debt is paid, our ransom bought. We are free, free! dear ones. No longer are we children of the slave woman, but children of the free (Galations 4:31). We have been captivated by the Truth and He has set us free (John 8:32).

So we say “yes” to the promise we cannot see. We say “yes” to the homeland we’ve yet to  touch. We say “yes” to the one born to set us free as we fall to our knees, chains crashing down, our hearts reverberate His praise,

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

Oh, but the journey is long and tedious. We crave the completion of home. We grow weary in doing good, fighting against the flesh, and the devil’s relentless attacks.

There are times we lament, “Why, Lord! Why?” We shake our finger at the Holy God and with Jeremiah cry,

“Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?” (Jeremiah 15:18).

Against our accusations all He asks is our return, our repentance. Always the Shepherd, our Emmanuel, “…for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless” (Jeremiah 15:20b-21).

We cannot see the end from the beginning, but our hearts cry for the end. We deeply desire the culmination of our faith, to be in the presence of the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. In the world’s injustice, in our sanctified struggle, in poverty, in homesickness, in anxiety and in peace, though we ache in our wanderings we are not without hope. We are not alone.

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:20-23

And yet, we remember him “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Our longing is not in vain.

In all this, He truly is our Emmanuel. Though we mourn in our exile, he will come and we will rejoice.


The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:26

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